#BentBritain: #UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications!

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications ~ and , The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al Saadi
The admission comes ahead of a legal challenge brought on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, over allegations that security services unlawfully intercepted their communications with lawyers.  Photograph: PA & AFP

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The admission that the regime surrounding state snooping on legally privileged communications has also failed to comply with the European convention on human rights comes in advance of a legal challenge, to be heard early next month, in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients to provide the government with an advantage in court.

The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, who, along with their families, were abducted in a joint MI6-CIA operation and sent back to Tripoli to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2004.

A government spokesman said: “The concession the government has made today relates to the agencies’ policies and procedures governing the handling of legally privileged communications and whether they are compatible with the European convention on human rights.

“In view of recent IPT judgments, we acknowledge that the policies adopted since [January] 2010 have not fully met the requirements of the ECHR, specifically article 8 (right to privacy). This includes a requirement that safeguards are made sufficiently public.

“It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on their part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligations to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously. Nor does it mean that any of the agencies’ activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

He said that the intelligence agencies would now work with the interception of communications commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations.

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and one of the Belhaj family’s lawyers said: “By allowing the intelligence agencies free reign to spy on communications between lawyers and their clients, the government has endangered the fundamental British right to a fair trial.

“Reprieve has been warning for months that the security services’ policies on lawyer-client snooping have been shot through with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through.

“For too long, the security services have been allowed to snoop on those bringing cases against them when they speak to their lawyers. In doing so, they have violated a right that is centuries old in British common law. Today they have finally admitted they have been acting unlawfully for years.

“Worryingly, it looks very much like they have collected the private lawyer-client communications of two victims of rendition and torture, and possibly misused them. While the government says there was no ‘deliberate’ collection of material, it’s abundantly clear that private material was collected and may well have been passed on to lawyers or ministers involved in the civil case brought by Abdel hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004 by British intelligence.

“Only time will tell how badly their case was tainted. But right now, the government needs urgently to investigate how things went wrong and come clean about what it is doing to repair the damage.”

Government sources, in line with all such cases, refuse to confirm or deny whether the two Libyans were the subject of an interception operation. They insist the concession does not concern the allegation that actual interception took place and say it will be for the investigatory powers tribunal hearing to determine the issue.

An updated draft interception code of practice spelling out the the rules for the first time was quietly published at the same time as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling against GCHQ earlier this month in the case brought by Privacy International and Liberty.

The government spokesman said the draft code set out enhanced safeguards and provided more detail than previously on the protections that had to be applied in the security agencies handling of legally privileged communications.

The draft code makes clear that warrants for snooping on legally privileged conversations, emails and other communications between suspects and their lawyers can be granted if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. They have to however ensure that they are not available to lawyers or policy officials who are conducting legal cases against those suspects.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under UK law. Following exposure of widespread monitoring by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Belhaj’s lawyers feared that their exchanges with their clients could have been compromised by GCHQ’s interception of phone conversations and emails.

To demonstrate that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required in advance of Wednesday’s concession to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.

The MI6 papers noted: “Undertaking interception in such circumstances would be extremely rare and would require strong justification and robust safeguards. It is essential that such intercepted material is not acquired or used for the purpose of conferring an unfair or improper advantage on SIS or HMG [Her Majesty’s government] in any such litigation, legal proceedings or criminal investigation.”

The internal documents also refer to a visit by the interception commissioner, Sir Anthony May, last summer to examine interception warrants, where it was discovered that regulations were not being observed. “In relation to one of the warrants,” the document explained, “the commissioner identified a number of concerns with regard to the handling of [legal professional privilege] material”.

Amnesty UK’s legal programme director, Rachel Logan, said: “We are talking about nothing less than the violation of a fundamental principle of the rule of law – that communications between a lawyer and their client must be confidential.

“The government has been caught red-handed. The security agencies have been illegally intercepting privileged material and are continuing to do so – this could mean they’ve been spying on the very people challenging them in court.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that government spies have been rumbled breaking the law.”


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#Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the #West’s modern crimes!

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes ~ Ben White, The Nation, February 14, 2015.

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

The week after Mohammed’s death, on February 5, Mr Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and discussed the violence of ISIL.

“Lest we get on our high horses”, said the commander-in-chief, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

These comments prompted a (brief) media storm, with Mr Obama accused of insulting Christians, pandering to the terrorist enemy, or just bad history.

In fact, the president was simply repeating a point often made by liberals since September 11, namely, that all religions have blots on their copy book through the deeds of their followers.

One of the consequences, however, of this invocation of the Crusades – unintended, and all the more significant for it – is to seal away the West’s “sins”, particularly vis-à-vis its relationship to the Middle East, in events that took place a thousand years ago.

The Crusades were, in one sense, a demonstration of raw military power, and a collective trauma for the peoples of the regions they marched through and invaded.

In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099, a witness described how the Europeans ordered “all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses”.

He added: “No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids.”

Or take the Third Crusade, when, on August 20, 1191, England’s King Richard I oversaw the beheading of 3,000 Muslim prisoners at Acre in full view of Saladin’s army.

Just “ancient history”? In 1920, when the French had besieged and captured Damascus, their commander Henri Gourard reportedly went to the grave of Saladin, kicked it, and uttered: “Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”

But the US president need not cite the Crusades or even the colonial rule of the early 20th century: more relevant reference points would be Bagram and Fallujah.

Bagram base in Afghanistan is where US soldiers tortured prisoners to death – like 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer Dilawar. Before he was killed in custody, Dilawar was beaten by soldiers just to make him scream “Allah!”

Five months after September 11, The Guardian reported that US missiles had killed anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 in Afghanistan. Months later, the paper suggested that “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention”.

When it was Iraq’s turn, the people of Fallujah discovered that US forces gave them funerals, not democracy. On April 28, 2003, US soldiers massacred civilian protesters, shooting to death 17 during a demonstration.

When that city revolted against the occupation, the residents paid a price. As Marines tried to quell resistance in the city, wrote The New York Times on April 14, 2004, they had “orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not”.Months later, as the Marines launched their November assault on the city, CNN reported that “the sky…seems to explode”.

In their bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and UK armed forces rained fiery death down on men, women and children. Prisoners were tortured and sexually abused. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. No one was held to account.

It is one thing to apologise for the brutality of western Crusaders a thousand years ago. It is quite another to look at the corpses of the victims of the imperialist present, or hear the screams of the bereaved.

In his excellent book The Muslims Are Coming, Arun Kundnani analysed the “politics of anti-extremism”, and describes the two approaches developed by policymakers and analysts during the “war on terror”.

The first approach, which he refers to as “culturalism”, emphasises “what adherents regard as inherent features of Islamic culture”. The second approach, “reformism”, is when “extremism is viewed as a perversion of Islam’s message”, rather than “a clash of civilisations between the West’s modern values and Islam’s fanaticism”.

Thus the American Right was angry with Mr Obama, because for them, it is about religion – or specifically, Islam. Liberals, meanwhile, want to locate the problem in terms of culture.

Both want to avoid a discussion about imperialism, massacres, coups, brutalities, disappearances, dictatorships – in other words, politics.

As Kundnani writes: when “the concept of ideology” is made central, whether understood as “Islam itself or as Islamist extremism”, then “the role of western states in co-producing the terror war is obscured”.

The problem with Mr Obama’s comments on the Crusades was not, as hysterical conservatives claimed, that he was making offensive and inaccurate analogies with ISIL; rather, that in the comfort of condemning the past, he could mask the violence of his own government in the present.

The echoes of collective trauma remain for a long time, and especially when new wounds are still being inflicted. Think it is farfetched that Muslims would still care about a 1,000-year-old European invasion? Then try asking them about Guantanamo and Camp Bucca instead.

Ben White is a journalist and author of Israeli Apartheid

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes
Pep Montserrat for The National

| The Left lionises Edward Snowden, but who will stand up for Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu?

The Left Lionises Edward Snowden, But Who Will Stand Up for Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu? ~ , Political director of The Huffington Post UK.

This is a tale of two whistleblowers. Let’s begin with Edward Snowden. The former US National Security Agency contractor has been hailed by the liberal left for exposing mass surveillance on an “almost Orwellian” scale (to borrow a line from a US district judge). He was voted person of the year for 2013 by Guardian readers and took the runner-up spot – behind the Pope! – in Time magazine’s annual list. On 25 December, Snowden appeared on Channel 4 to give the “alternative Christmas message”, warning viewers that the types of surveillance mentioned in Nineteen Eighty-Four “are nothing compared to what we have available today”.

On Christmas Day, another whistleblower spoke out – but inside an Israeli courtroom, rather than on British television. “I don’t want to live in Israel,” declared Mordechai Vanunu, who served 18 years behind bars for blowing the whistle on Israel’s nuclear secrets. “I cannot live here as a convicted spy, a traitor, an enemy and a Christian,” he told Israel’s High Court, in English, having vowed not to speak Hebrew until he is allowed to leave the country.

Vanunu was jailed in 1988 for leaking details of his work as a technician at a nuclear facility near Dimona to the Sunday Times two years earlier. On 29 December 2013, the court rejected his petition, on the grounds that he continues to possess information that could jeopardise Israel’s national security. Andrew Neil, the former editor of the Sunday Times, disagrees. “He told us everything,” Neil told me. “We drained him dry.”

Neil calls Vanunu’s revelations the biggest scoop of his 11-year editorship of the Sunday Times. “Everyone knew Israel had the bomb but what we didn’t know was the huge extent of its nuclear facilities and also its ability to make the hydrogen bomb,” he tells me. “[The Vanunu story] told the world that Israel was basically the sixth nuclear power.”

As a result, Vanunu has been persecuted by the Israeli state for almost three decades. For the first 11 years of his 18-year prison sentence, the former nuclear technician was held in solitary confinement in a nine-foot-by-six-foot cell. His treatment was condemned by Amnesty International as “cruel, inhuman and degrading”; Vanunu has described it as “barbaric”.

This barbarism has continued since his release in 2004. Vanunu has been subjected to restrictions on his freedom of speech and movement. He is prevented from talking to foreign journalists, visiting foreign embassies or owning a mobile phone and has repeatedly been placed under house arrest for breaching these strictures; hence his repeated attempts to try to leave the country.

It is worth repeating: in Israel, which styles itself as the “only democracy in the Middle East”, it is a crime for whistleblowers to meet foreigners. So, where’s the outrage? Where are the human rights activists? The liberal interventionists? Their silence is a stark reminder that it is far easier to champion the cause of an American critic of the US than an Israeli critic of Israel. (Especially when that critic is a Jewish convert to Christianity, as Vanunu is, and has dared to say: “A Jewish state is not necessary.”)

Not a single national newspaper in the UK covered Vanunu’s recent appearances in court. Over the past few years, the British press has deigned to mention his name on only a handful of occasions. Little has changed: “The day after we published the [Vanunu] story, all the British newspapers either ignored the story or rubbished it,” Neil recalls.

Vanunu has been ignored and forgotten. Those who criticise Snowden for fleeing to Russia by way of Hong Kong don’t have a clue. It is only because Snowden went on the run and, crucially, appeared on television and did interviews that the rest of us have been able to benefit from his information. The Israelis, as Neil notes, “feared the propaganda effect” of Vanunu. The Sunday Times had lined up a series of TV interviews for him, but before he could do them he was drugged and kidnapped by Mossad and taken back to Tel Aviv for trial.

Vanunu recently compared himself with Snowden, saying that the former NSA analyst “is the best example for what I did 25 years ago – when the government breaks the law and tramples on human rights, people talk… He speaks for everyone and that’s what I did.”

Like Snowden, Vanunu isn’t a traitor. He is a whistleblower who, in Neil’s words, “took the view that if Israel should have nukes, that should be a matter of public record [and] debate”. He could have sold Israel’s nuclear secrets to the highest bidders in Moscow or Damascus. He didn’t. The Vietnam war whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg calls Vanunu “the pre-eminent hero of the nuclear era”. “More Vanunus are urgently needed,” he wrote in theLos Angeles Times in 2004. “That is true not only in Israel but in every nuclear weapons state, declared and undeclared.”

Indeed, it is. Double standards, however, abound. Can you imagine how the west would treat an Iranian Vanunu? How hysterical do you think the response would be in London or Washington – or Tel Aviv! – if an Iranian nuclear scientist were to come forward with, say, photos of secret warheads, only to be locked up by the mullahs and sentenced to solitary confinement?

For 27 years, Vanunu has been deprived of his liberty – for blowing the whistle, for telling the truth. It is a moral and geopolitical disgrace. We cannot afford, in good conscience, to forget the plight of Israel’s Snowden. To quote the Northern Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire: “We cannot be free while he is not free.”

Mehdi Hasan is the political director of the Huffington Post UK and a contributing writer for the New Statesman, where this blog is cross-posted

 vanunu israeli_nukeA

| Snowden aide Harrison takes refuge in Berlin!

Snowden aide Harrison takes refuge in Berlin ~ Deutsche Welle.

After helping US whistleblower Edward Snowden attain asylum in Russia, British journalist Sarah Harrison has left Moscow. Harrison has taken refuge in Berlin, out of concern she could be detained in the UK.

Die britischen Journalistin und Wikileaks-Aktivistin Sarah Harrison spricht am 21.06.2012 vor der Botschaft von Ecuador in London, in der WikiLeaks Gründer Assange geflüchtet war, zur Presse. Bei seinem Flug von Hongkong nach Moskau wurde der ehemalige US-Geheimdienstler Edward Snowden von Harrison begleitet. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (zu dpa: «'Whistleblower' Snowden beschert Wikileaks ein Comeback»9

National security leakers lead a precarious existence these days. Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over a year now, unable to leave for fear of being arrested by British authorities and extradited to Sweden as part of a sexual assault investigation. Assange believes that going to Sweden would be the first step in his extradition to the US and an eventual trial there.

Meanwhile, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is under constant guard in Moscow after having received temporary asylum in Russia. For now, at least, Snowden has managed to avoid the fate that befell Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, who was convicted on espionage charges and sentenced in June to 35 years in prison for leaking 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

Snowden’s good fortune is largely due to British journalist Sarah Harrison, a Wikileaks researcher who helped the former NSA contractor escape the long arm of the US Justice Department. Having assisted one of the US government’s top public enemies, she has now taken refuge in Berlin, reticent to return to her native England for fear of being detained by authorities under the UK Terrorism Act.

On Wednesday, Harrison published a letter calling for whistle-blowers to be shielded from prosecution, saying that “giving us the truth is not a crime.”

“Wikileaks continues to fight for the protection of sources,” Harrison wrote. “We have won the battle for Snowden’s immediate future, but the broader war continues.”

‘Snowden is safe and protected’

Former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden and Sarah Harrison (L) of WikiLeaks speak to human rights representatives in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport July 12, 2013. Snowden is seeking temporary asylum in Russia and plans to go to Latin America eventually, an organisation endorsed by anti-secrecy group Wikileaks said on Twitter on Friday. REUTERS/Human Rights Watch/Handout (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) NO COMMERCIAL OR BOOK SALES. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Harrison accompanied Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow

When Snowden first fled to Hong Kong after leaking his trove of NSA documents to US journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, Harrison flew to China at the behest of Wikileaks to help secure the whistle-blower’s safe passage and prevent his extradition to the US.

While not a lawyer by trade, she had acquired expertise on extradition matters through the case of Assange with whom she both worked and had been romantically involved.

“I’m sure that if Julian hadn’t been grounded at the embassy in London, he would have loved to have done it himself,” Jeremie Zimmermann told DW, referring to Snowden’s successful asylum application in Russia.

Zimmermann is the spokesman and co-founder of the digital rights group La Quadrature du Net in France. He was a contributor to Assange’s 2012 book “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet” and knows Harrison.

“I’m sure after [Assange], Sarah was the most competent,” he continued. “She’s a brilliant journalist and researcher and a brilliant person in general.”

Although Harrison didn’t elaborate on why, exactly, she left Russia, she did write that the job of securing Snowden had been completed.

“Whilst Snowden is safe and protected until his asylum visa is due to be renewed in nine months time, there is still much work to be done,” Harrison said. “The battle Snowden joined against the surveillance state and for government transparency is one that Wikileaks – and many others – have been fighting, and will continue to fight.”

Exile in Berlin

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands with Ecuador's Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino (R) at Ecuador's embassy in central London June 16, 2013. Assange sought asylum in the embassy on June 19, 2012, in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden. REUTERS/Chris Helgren (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA CRIME LAW)Assange is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Harrison has joined a growing colony in Berlin of transparency-advocates-in-exile. Poitras, who has reported on the Snowden leaks for the Washington Post and Der Spiegel, and hacker and Wikileaks supporter Jacob Appelbaum, both reside in the German capital.

“Already in the few days I have spent in Germany, it is heartening to see the people joining together and calling for their government to do what must be done – to investigate NSA spying revelations and to offer Edward Snowden asylum,” Harrison wrote in her letter.

The outcry in Germany has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks. Reports from the summer about the NSA collecting millions of Germans’ metadata have now been compounded by the revelation that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone was also allegedly hacked.

“Berlin seems to be the place of choice right now if you consider the vibrant character of the public debate here, and I’m referring to the last two front pages of Der Spiegel that sounded quite serious about it,” Zimmermann said. In a recent Der Spiegel issue, the news magazine published reports based on Snowden’s leaks, detailing possible NSA eavesdropping on Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone. The publication has also called for Snowden to be granted asylum.

Fear of UK Terrorism Act

The daughter of a middle class British family, Harrison’s father is a former executive at a clothing retailer and her mother works with children who have learning difficulties. After studying English literature at Queen Mary, she took a job as an international event manager, but ultimately decided to pursue journalism.

U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (L) walks with his partner David Miranda in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport August 19, 2013. British authorities used anti-terrorism powers on Sunday to detain Miranda, the partner of Greenwald, who has close links to Edward Snowden, the former U.S. spy agency contractor who has been granted asylum by Russia, as he passed through London's Heathrow airport. The 28-year-old Miranda, a Brazilian citizen and partner of Greenwald who writes for Britain's Guardian newspaper, was questioned for nine hours before being released without charge, a report on the Guardian website said. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY MEDIA)
Greenwald’s boyfriend was held for nine hours under the terrorism act

Harrison received an internship with the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London in 2009 and landed a junior research position at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2010. Through her work at the bureau, she came into contact with Assange and later began working for Wikileaks as a researcher.

Taking the advice of legal advisers, Harrison has decided to stay in Germany, for fear of being detained in her native England under the UK Terrorism Act. In August, Glenn Greenwald’s boyfriend, David Miranda, was detained under the act for nine hours at London’s Heathrow Airport. Miranda had been on his way from Berlin back to Brazil – where he and Greenwald live – having transported materials between the Guardian journalist and Poitras.

Under the Terrorism Act, police can detain and question an individual in order to determine whether or not they are a “terrorist.” According to Harrison and other transparency activists, by detaining Miranda, London effectively defined national security reporting as “terrorism.”

“The problem is she’s now part of this net of suspicion,” Zimmerman said.

“It is likely that she would be suspected of the same kind of nonsensical charges if she even stepped foot here,” he continued. “So in a way, until further notice, she might be constrained to exile, the same way that Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras, [and] Appelbaum are today.”

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| Hubris + hypocrisy: Clemency for Torturers, but Not for Edward Snowden!

Clemency for Torturers, but Not for Edward Snowden ~ , The Atlantic.

Why pardoning the whistleblower would be more moral and legal than Team Obama’s treatment of Bush-era interrogators.

Reuters

Circa 2008, Barack Obama gave his supporters reason to believe that if he were elected, he would protect whistleblowers and obey U.S. law on the subject of torture.

He has disappointed on both subjects.

Long before Edward Snowden exposed mass surveillance on Americans by the NSA, the Obama Administration was aggressively persecuting former civil servants who blew the whistle on objectionable behavior during the Bush Administration.

On torture, President Obama laudably decided against restarting what he and Attorney General Eric Holder both declared to be an official program of illegal torture. But the Obama Administration has declined to investigate and prosecute the torturers. Even if the president were within his legal rights to exercise discretion and “look forward,” letting torturers go free would be a historic injustice. In fact, Obama’s torture policy is itself a violation of U.S. law. The Convention Against Torture was signed by President Reagan and ratified by the Senate. The torture treaty went into force in the United States on November 20, 1994. It compels an official investigation and referral of the torturers for prosecution. One purpose of the treaty is to ensure that these steps are not discretionary.

What does it say about the Obama Administration, and the United States generally, that the architects of torture remain free, even though authorities have no legal discretion to absolve them, while Edward Snowden, who exposed various NSA surveillance practices, stands accused of being a traitor to the United States? Obama avers that torture is a moral abomination that made America less safe; he denies that water-boarding helped us in the War on Terrorism. He also knows that Snowden’s revelations sparked what he called a needed debate on surveillance. Yet he rejects the notion of granting clemency to Snowden, even though he has the authority to pardon his release of classified information.

Let’s look squarely at what this means.

The Obama Administration has no plans to punish the people who undermined a core civilizational norm, let prisoner abuse trickle down the ranks into the military, needlessly subjected shackled humans to extreme physical depravity, and gave al-Qaeda leaders the most useful propaganda and recruiting tool imaginable.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials have gone so far as to ground the plane of a foreign leader in their zealous pursuit of Edward Snowden, who revealed truths about U.S. surveillance practices that have caused no demonstrated physical harm to anyone, that a majority of Americans wanted to know, that revealed previously unknown violations of the law to congressional overseers and the public, and that have prompted at least two legislative reform efforts in the United States alone.

Personally, I’d like to see Snowden pardoned. What even his critics should acknowledge is that calls to forgive his lawbreaking are on much firmer footing, both legally and morally, than the unlawful decision to absolve Bush-era torturers. Remember that the next time you see a politician or pundit insist that we can’t let Snowden remain free, as Daniel Ellsberg did, out of concern for the rule of law.

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| Russian lawyer says Snowden to start website job!

Russian lawyer says Snowden to start website job ~

Steve Gutterman, MOSCOW, Reuters.

(Reuters) – Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has found a job working for a website in Russia, where he was granted asylum after fleeing the United States, a Russian lawyer who is helping him said on Thursday.

“Edward starts work in November,” lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said, according to state-run news agency RIA.

“He will provide support for a large Russian site,” he said, adding that he would not name the site “for security reasons”.

Snowden, 30, a former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed secret U.S. internet telephone surveillance programmes, fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia in June.

President Vladimir Putin has rejected U.S. pleas to send Snowden home to face charges including espionage, and the temporary asylum he was granted in early August can be extended annually.

Snowden’s location in Russia has not been disclosed and since July he has appeared only in a handful of photographs and video clips from a meeting this month with visiting former U.S. national security officials who support his cause.

Putin, a former KGB spy, said repeatedly that Russia would only shelter Snowden if he stopped harming the United States.

But state media have treated him as a whistleblower and the decision to grant him asylum seemed to underscore Putin’s accusations that the U.S. government preaches to the world about rights and freedoms it does not uphold at home.

Putin has dismissed the widespread assumption that Russian intelligence officers had grilled Snowden for information after he arrived, and Kucherena has portrayed him as trying to live as normal a life as possible under the circumstances.

He said earlier that he hoped Snowden would find a job because he was living on scant funds, mostly from donations.

A tabloid news site on Thursday published what it said was a photo of Snowden on a Moscow river cruise this summer, and the same site earlier published a photo of a man who looked like Snowden pushing a shopping cart in a supermarket parking lot.

Kucherena was not immediately available for comment, an aide said.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

A picture of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen on a computer screen displaying a page of a Chinese news website, in Beijing in this June 13, 2013 photo illustration. The Chinese characters of the title read: ''PRISM program whistleblower Snowden being interviewed in Hong Kong''. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files

A picture of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen on a computer screen displaying a page of a Chinese news website, in Beijing in this June 13, 2013 photo illustration. The Chinese characters of the title read: PRISM program whistleblower Snowden being interviewed in Hong Kong”.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee/Files

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| Q and A: The modern day heroes of investigative journalism!

Q and A: The modern day heroes of investigative journalism ~ John Pilger, Al Jazeera.

John Pilger discusses the role of the media in the contemporary context of whistleblowers and war.

According to Pilger, the biggest threat to the so-called security establishment is still WikiLeaks [AP]
As part of an ongoing series of interviews for the radio show “Le Mur a Des Oreilles; conversations for Palestine“, Frank Barat talks to John Pilger, one of the most influencial journalist of the last few decades, about the war in Syria, the colonisation of Palestine, the relationship between the corporate media and government propaganda and the actions of a few very brave men, Snowden, Assange and Manning.

FB: Quick question before we start, have you finished working on a new film?

JP: Yes, I’ve almost just finished a new film, which will be premiered at the National Film Theatre here on October 3 and shown on the ITV network on the December 17. It is called “Utopia” and it is about Indigenous Australia and the secret of Australia and the way Australia has embraced an Apartheid without giving due acknowledgment for having done so. It is a subject I have written and made films about over the years but this is quite an epic film.

FB: Let’s start, so Syria is regularly headline news at the moment, what do you make of the corporate media reporting on the issue and as a reporter, do you recognise yourself in this type of journalism?

JP: Well, I’ve never recognised myself being the kind of journalism that misrepresents the Middle East as a matter of routine. I don’t see how any journalist can recognise himself or herself. This is not to say that there are not good reporters, good journalists that work in the Middle East but we rarely glimpse them in what we call the mainstream, that’s a miss known there is no mainstream of course and you’ve described it correctly as corporate media, we rarely glimpse these honourable exceptionsThere is a kind of Kissinger’s style to a lot of the reporting in the way that Kissinger made almost an art form of hypocrisy and looking the other way while the United States went about its rapacious business in the Middle East and the way he gave an impunity to Israel which we have to understand, if we are to understand, the problems of the Middle East and how they might be solved but it’s almost as if Israel doesn’t exist and yet it is the core of the problem.

FB: Would it be a fair portrayal if I say to you that I can’t really see a difference between corporate media reporting on Syria and Government propaganda? It seems like they are the same sort of arms of the same Institutions in a way.

JP: Most of the mainstream reporting is simply an extension of what I would call an establishment prevailing view, it is not necessarily the government but generally speaking, it is the government point of view. The mainstream broadcasters for example made no secret of the fact that they framed their political and to a large degree the International coverage on how the political class, the Westminster class in Britain deals with politics and international affairs. So, you have a political reporter, he is limited to report in Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament, a so called diplomatic correspondent is limited to really reporting what the Foreign Office does. So they are by almost their own definition simply echoes of what the government or the establishment point of view.

FB: Talking about journalists such as yourself that we normally call investigative journalists, it seems like it is a dying breed, would you say that people like Snowden and Assange are the new journalists nowadays?

JP: I don’t think it is a dying breed, I think there is a great enthusiasm among young journalists to really be real journalists, in fact investigating journalist is a modern invention really, I mean journalism should be about investigating but people who do the hard work finding out things and encouraging whistle blowers and so on they are there. You’ve got people in the United States like Jeremy Scahill and Gareth Porter.Gareth Porter especially who writes only on the Internet, he is an excellent investigating journalist. So, you know, we exist, we are not dying off, we are always under threat, I suspect we always were.

What we’ve done always in the past is recognise that our greatest source has been a whistle blower, I mean the source of great scoops, great revelations, is not always but mostly someone from within, a sort of conscientious objector, Bradley Manning played that part with great distinction and courage. Snowden is an absolute exemplar of this and I suspect, in fact I know that he represents many others within, the so-called security establishment. The biggest threat is probably still WikiLeaks because it has provided a method by which leakers can leak also blowers can blow. It has a pretty moral principle behind it which Julien Assange has often expressed. So, I would regard them as part of a kind of a band of brothers and sisters if you like, journalists, whistle blowers. It is very interesting, one of the most interesting document which wikiLeaks leaked a few years ago from the Ministry of Defence in London was a document which I think entitled something like how to stop leaks and of course it was leaked, it described the biggest threats to all the wonderful things we hold here in the West, there were 3 major threats. The third threat was Russian spies, believe it or not, the second threat was terrorists but the major threats above all were investigative journalists.

FB: Coming back to the Middle East, you’ve reported on Palestine for many years. How difficult is it to report on Palestine and what do you make of channels such as the BBC calling for impartiality on the issue? Can a journalist be impartial when the situation is so unbalanced on the ground?

JP:  Well, they don’t mean impartial, it is just a term that has been drained of all its diction meaning, it has no meaning, impartial means partial actually, it means putting a cross as I described the Western point of view and being very very aware of that unless you put across on the Israeli point of view you are going to be in trouble within your own organisations, the BBC is a particular example, you know I made a film about this in which there were producers which I have known personally talked about being terrified of a call from the Israeli Embassy. The routine intimidation of the BBC has produced without too much difficulty I have to say, has produced a partiality that they describe as impartiality, it is a sort of a Orwellian expression, there is no impartiality. In the language used, so you have a BBC report in which you have two narratives in Palestine you know, the “Israeli – Palestine” conflict and so on. There is very very rarely reporting that is framed within the law. Say it was framed within the law there would be no question of how Palestine would come out and how Israel would come out because Israel is the most lawless state in the world and what it is doing in Palestine is entirely lawless. It’s never framed in terms of law, it’s never framed in terms of dare I say what is right or wrong; it is framed in terms of an equal conflict, which it is, of course not.

FB: You made a film called “Palestine is still the issue” in 2003, if you had to make one again today, what title would you give it and why?

JP: Well, the first film I made about Palestine was in 1974 and it was called “Palestine is still the issue”, the next film I made was in 2002 “Palestine is still the issue” and if I make one now it would be called “Palestine is still the issue” for the obvious reason.

FB: You mentioned words before, for journalists and for propaganda purposes from governments or mainstream media, how important are words? You talked about Orwellian words, it seems they can actually change the meaning of wars, they would call a “massacre” a “pacification”,”ethnic cleansing” becomes “moving borders” etc, can you tell us something about that?

JP: It comes down to much more basic that the word war. A war implies that there are two kind of more or less equal states or army facing each other. So going to war in Syria, having a war in Syria, you hear that time and time again, there is no war in Syria, there is a war going on in Syria but it is a civil war, but as far as the West is concerned there is no such things as going to war because apart from trying to defend itself, Syria will be attacked just as there were no war in Iraq. A war was created, a sectarian war that was the consequence of what was a massive attack and invasion. The same thing happened in 1991, I saw the state of the Iraqi army shortly before that and it was not equipped or able to defend itself or a country or whatever. Yes, it could go on an invade Kuwait but there was no real defence there. Again, that was not a war, they did not call it a war, they called it an invasion. So they are invasion, they are rapacious, they are aggressive, they are lawless.

In Vietnam, the world involvement was used, I remember that, in the Americans press. The US involvement in Vietnam you know is a useless word, it doesn’t really mean anything. In fact, it was the US invasion of South Vietnam, the country was meant to be defending, that term was almost never used.

FB: One of your last film that is called “The war you don’t see”, the people we often don’t see are the people on the ground, the people that are fighting imperialism, fighting for an intervention. Following our interview tonight, we are going to talk to a woman activist from Nablus, a Lady called Beesan Ramadan, what would be your message to people on the ground that are suffering from Western interventions?

JP: I think we all depend on people like that; we all draw inspiration from them because it is just remarkable to me and inspiring. The Palestinians keep going, those who attack them again and again, the Israelis and Americans and former Israelis, Americans, Europeans and so on. These constant attacks on Palestine have not even divided the Palestinians yet, I mean, yes, Gaza has been physically divided from the West Bank, the Occupied Territories but even that division between people in Gaza and people in the West Bank as well as class division, of course there are but the fact that the Palestinian people keep going and this is a spectacle I find very moving, that Palestinian children going to school all dressed up in their school uniforms making their way through rubbleoften having had disturbed nights and perhaps disturbing themselves by the attacks on them by the Israelis and so on.

So, because Palestine is still the issue, because unless there is a settlement, unless there is justice that is the key word, justice for the Palestinian people (when I said settlement I mean a just one), there is not going to be peace really in the region or in the broader world so we depend on the people there to keep going.

FB: Thanks John, thanks again.

John Pilger is an award winning Australian journalist and broadcaster/documentary maker primarily based in Britain.

Frank Barat is a human rights activist based in London, UK and is coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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| The Real, Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda!

The Real, Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda ~ The Atlantic.

The scariest explanation of all? That the NSA and GCHQ are just showing they don’t want to be messed with.

Hobbes-Banner.jpg

Illustration from the original edition of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, by Abraham Bosse (1651)

Last Sunday, David Miranda was detained while changing planes at London Heathrow Airport by British authorities for nine hours under a controversial British law — the maximum time allowable without making an arrest. There has been much made of the fact that he’s the partner of Glenn Greenwald, theGuardian reporter whom Edward Snowden trusted with many of his NSA documents and the most prolific reporter of the surveillance abuses disclosed in those documents. There’s less discussion of what I feel was the real reason for Miranda’s detention. He was ferrying documents between Greenwald and Laura Poitras, a filmmaker and his co-reporter on Snowden and his information. These document were on several USB memory sticks he had with him. He had already carried documents from Greenwald in Rio de Janeiro to Poitras in Berlin, and was on his way back with different documents when he was detained.

The memory sticks were encrypted, of course, and Miranda did not know the key. This didn’t stop the British authorities from repeatedly asking for the key, and from confiscating the memory sticks along with his other electronics.

The incident prompted a major outcry in the U.K. The U.K.’s Terrorist Act has always been controversial, and this clear misuse — it was intended to give authorities the right to detain and question suspected terrorists — is promptingnew calls for its review. Certainly the U.K. police will be more reluctant to misuse the law again in this manner.

I have to admit this story has me puzzled. Why would the British do something like this? What did they hope to gain, and why did they think it worth the cost? And — of course — were the British acting on their own under the Official Secrets Act, or were they acting on behalf of the United States? (My initial assumption was that they were acting on behalf of the U.S., but after the bizarre story of the British GCHQ demanding the destruction of Guardian computers last month, I’m not sure anymore.)

We do know the British were waiting for Miranda. It’s reasonable to assume they knew his itinerary, and had good reason to suspect that he was ferrying documents back and forth between Greenwald and Poitras. These documents could be source documents provided by Snowden, new documents that the two were working on either separately or together, or both. That being said, it’s inconceivable that the memory sticks would contain the only copies of these documents. Poitras retained copies of everything she gave Miranda. So the British authorities couldn’t possibly destroy the documents; the best they could hope for is that they would be able to read them.

Is it truly possible that the NSA doesn’t already know what Snowden has? Theyclaim they don’t, but after Snowden’s name became public, the NSA would have conducted the mother of all audits. It would try to figure out what computer systems Snowden had access to, and therefore what documents he could have accessed. Hopefully, the audit information would give more detail, such as which documents he downloaded. I have a hard time believing that its internal auditing systems would be so bad that it wouldn’t be able to discover this.

So if the NSA knows what Snowden has, or what he could have, then the most it could learn from the USB sticks is what Greenwald and Poitras are currently working on, or thinking about working on. But presumably the things the two of them are working on are the things they’re going to publish next. Did the intelligence agencies really do all this simply for a few weeks’ heads-up on what was coming? Given how ham-handedly the NSA has handled PR as each document was exposed, it seems implausible that it wanted advance knowledge so it could work on a response. It’s been two months since the first Snowden revelation, and it still doesn’t have a decent PR story.

Furthermore, the U.K. authorities must have known that the data would be encrypted. Greenwald might have been a crypto newbie at the start of the Snowden affair, but Poitras is known to be good at security. The two have been communicating securely by e-mail when they do communicate. Maybe the U.K. authorities thought there was a good chance that one of them would make a security mistake, or that Miranda would be carrying paper documents.

Another possibility is that this was just intimidation. If so, it’s misguided. Anyone who regularly reads Greenwald could have told them that he would not have been intimidated — and, in fact, he expressed the exact opposite sentiment — and anyone who follows Poitras knows that she is even more strident in her views. Going after the loved ones of state enemies is a typically thuggish tactic, but it’s not a very good one in this case. The Snowden documents will get released. There’s no way to put this cat back in the bag, not even by killing the principal players.

It could possibly have been intended to intimidate others who are helping Greenwald and Poitras, or the Guardian and its advertisers. This will have some effect. LavabitSilent Circle, and now Groklaw have all been successfully intimidated. Certainly others have as well. But public opinion is shifting against the intelligence community. I don’t think it will intimidate future whistleblowers. If the treatment of Bradley Manning didn’t discourage them, nothing will.

This leaves one last possible explanation — those in power were angry and impulsively acted on that anger. They’re lashing out: sending a message and demonstrating that they’re not to be messed with — that the normal rules of polite conduct don’t apply to people who screw with them. That’s probably the scariest explanation of all. Both the U.S. and U.K. intelligence apparatuses have enormous money and power, and they have already demonstrated that they are willing to ignore their own laws. Once they start wielding that power unthinkingly, it could get really bad for everyone.

And it’s not going to be good for them, either. They seem to want Snowden so badly that that they’ll burn the world down to get him. But every time they act impulsively aggressive — convincing the governments of Portugal and France toblock the plane carrying the Bolivian president because they thought Snowden was on it is another example — they lose a small amount of moral authority around the world, and some ability to act in the same way again. The more pressure Snowden feels, the more likely he is to give up on releasing the documents slowly and responsibly, and publish all of them at once — the same way that WikiLeaks published the U.S. State Department cables.

Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported on some new NSA secret programs that are spying on Americans. It got the information from “interviews with current and former intelligence and government officials and people from companies that help build or operate the systems, or provide data,” not from Snowden. This is only the beginning. The media will not be intimidated. I will not be intimidated. But it scares me that the NSA is so blind that it doesn’t see it.

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| BREAKING: Venezuela’s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to Snowden!

| BREAKING: Venezuela‘s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to Snowden!

“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro told a televised parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

NSA leak fallout: LIVE UPDATES ~ RT.

Former CIA employee Edward Snowden has carried out one of the biggest leaks in US history, exposing a top-secret NSA surveillance program to the media. Leading tech companies were revealed to be involved in intelligence gathering through PRISM spy tool.

00:11 GMT Venezuela’s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to US NSA- leaker Edward Snowden, Reuters reports.

“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro told a televised parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

Saturday, July 6 

23:34 GMT: Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega said on Friday that he had received an asylum request from US NSA-leaker Edward Snowden and could accept the bid “if circumstances permit.”

“We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua,” Ortega said at a public event.

16:27 GMT: Edward Snowden has applied to another six states for political asylum, WikiLeaks reported. In an effort to avoid US interference, the six nations were not disclosed.

15:12 GMT: UK and Sweden have vetoed the discussion of traditional spying by the US on EU members during upcoming talks in Washington. Originally the EU envisaged two working groups – reports the Guardian – one discussing NSA and PRISM, and the other more traditional methods of espionage, but the two objectors said the EU had no authority to discuss matters of national security, particularly since policies differ widely among various member states. “Intelligence matters and those of national security are not the competence of the EU,” summed up José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president.

11:57 GMT: German Blush lingerie brand has decided to take advantage of the hype surrounding Edward Snowden, issuing a series of ads in which the whistleblower is mentioned. In one of them, the company offers him asylum in Berlin, promising that a “bed and champagne” is waiting for the NSA leaker upon arrival. Another ad features the slogan “Dear Edward Snowden, there’s still a lot to uncover” next to a female model in sexy underwear.

“We highly sympathize with what Snowden did,”
 said Johannes Krempl, director of Glow Advertising agency. “We owe him so much, and that’s why we thought we have to do something to express our feelings towards him and thank him, and that’s why we came up with this ad for Blush in support of his deeds.”


07:48 GMT: The US government has issued an arrest warrant for Edward Snowden to the Irish government. The request has been sent as a pre-emptive strike against Snowden’s potential attempt to fly to Havana, Cuba on a commercial flight which has a stopover in Shannon, Ireland for refueling.

06:35 GMT: The proposal to give Snowden Icelandic citizenship received limited support in Parliament on Thursday, the last day before summer recess, with only six members of minority parties in favor out of parliament’s 63 members.

Friday, July 5

21:17 GMT: A short movie on NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been filmed by a group of independent filmmakers in Hong Kong. Called “Verax,” or the truth teller in Latin, the 5-minute film has already been viewed over 130,000 times on YouTube.

Creators say the $600 budget movie was made in less than a week at the time Snowden was still in Hong-Kong.

The film depicts Snowden’s time spent in a Hong Kong hotel room while hiding from the intelligence services. The film also shows the Snowden-alike protagonist solving a Rubik’s cube – an object he reportedly identifies with.

‘Verax’ was reportedly the alias Snowden used when contacting journalists via encrypted chat services.

17:09 GMT: The Icelandic Parliament reportedly has a bill that would give Snowden Icelandic citizenship.

16:06 GMT: Paris has rejected Edward Snowden’s asylum request, AFP reports quoting ministerial officials.

So far, twelve countries including France have denied the whistleblower refuge. Egiht applications are still pending.

16:01 GMT: France’s external intelligence agency spies on French citizens‘ phone calls, emails, social media activity and web use, reports Le Monde. 

15:19 GMT: Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino says Rome cannot support Snowden’s request for Asylum. She stated that any request would have to be presented in person at the border or on Italian territory, which Snowden had not done.

“As a result there do not exist the legal conditions to accept such a request which in the government’s view would not be acceptable on a political level either,” she said.

Snowden has applied for asylum in 21 countries.

14:34 GMT: EU Parliament has voted to scrap two agreements granting the US access to European financial and travel data, unless Washington reveals the full extent of its spying on Europe.

 

Members of the EU Parliament take part in a voting session on the implications for EU citizens' privacy of the US Prism and other internet surveillance cases, on July 4, 2013 during a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)Members of the EU Parliament take part in a voting session on the implications for EU citizens’ privacy of the US Prism and other internet surveillance cases, on July 4, 2013 during a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)

 

13:20 GMT: EU lawmakers on Thursday demanded ‘immediate clarification’ of US spying on EU offices and warned the scandal could damage trans-Atlantic relations. Lawmakers however rejected a call for the postponement of talks on a EU-US trade deal, which are due to start on Monday.

12:44 GMT: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has rejected an order for the extradition of former CIA employee Edward Snowden live on Venezuelan state channel Telesur.

“I reject any request for extradition, affirmed the president, speaking about Edward Snowden,” read a tweet posted on Telesur’s Twitter account.

11:53 GMT: Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has not applied for political asylum in Russia so it is not in Moscow’s power to decide his destiny, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.“As of today, Russia has not received an application from Mr. Snowden for political asylum. We believe that without his determined personal decision in one direction or another, without his exact understanding of what is better for him, what solution he considers to be the optimal one, we are unable to decide for him. That’s all that can be said currently,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists.

10:05 GMT: “Snowden, will you marry me?” Russian ‘femme fatale’ Anna Chapman asks via twitter. The red-haired tabloid darling came to world prominence after the spy scandal with ten Russians sleeper agents arrested in the US in June 2010. They were expelled from American soil after being traded on July 9 for four American spies serving jail terms in Russia, in what was the biggest prisoner swap since the fall of the Iron Curtain. After returning to Russia, Chapman has been enjoying an active media life and hosting a program on “Mysteries of the World” Russian REN TV channel.

9:13 GMT: The Bolivian government has rejected the American extradition request for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as “baseless and illegal.”

“The bizarre, legally baseless and unusual request for the extradition of a person who is not on the territory of the state in question, will be returned to the United States immediately,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The Ministry stressed that Morales had at no point met with President Morales in Russia, nor did he get on the plane, nor is he presently on Bolivian territory”

5:02 GMT: The Bolivian President’s plane has finally landed in La Paz following its detention for over 13 hours in Vienna’s airport. The presidential craft made two stops during its journey in Brazil and the Canary Islands. President Evo Morales was greeted by a throng of supporters at the airport, who brandished banners and voiced their solidarity. The Bolivian leader addressed the crowd, declaring: “they will never intimidate us! They will never scare us!”

 

Four hours for President Evo Morales to arrive in Bolivia and the airport is already packed with people who want to welcome him. (Photo from Instagram/@RT)Four hours for President Evo Morales to arrive in Bolivia and the airport is already packed with people who want to welcome him. (Photo from Instagram/@RT)

 

Thursday, July 4

16:15 GMT: Protesters burn a French flag outside the French embassy in La Paz. Bolivian officials accused France, Portugal, Italy and Spain of denying entry to the President’s jet late Tuesday over “unfounded rumors” Snowden was traveling on board.

 

People burn a French flag in front of France's embassy in La Paz on June 03, 2013 . (AFP Photo)People burn a French flag in front of France’s embassy in La Paz on June 03, 2013 . (AFP Photo)

 

15:08 GMT: Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has asked that the Unasur group of South American nations call an urgent meeting over travel restrictions placed on Bolivian President Evo Morales by France and Portugal, Unasur’s secretary general said in a statement on Wednesday.

12:03 GMT:

 

10:47 GMT: “An act of aggression and violation of international law” is how Bolivia’s UN envoydescribed Austria’s decision to search the Bolivian presidential jet for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The envoy has pledged to make an official complaint to the UN.

Envoy Sacha Llorentty Soliz told press in New York that he had no doubt the decision to search the plane originated from the US.

10:39 GMT: France wants a temporary two week suspension of EU-US free trade talks in the light of the looming scandal over the US National Security Agency’s alleged spying on 38 embassies, including America’s NATO European allies. “It’s not a question of halting the negotiations,” French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem noted, but “On the other hand, it would seem wise to us to suspend them for a couple of weeks to avoid any controversy and have the time to obtain the information we’ve asked for,” he said.

8:51 GMT: The Austrian authorities searched Morales’ plane for Edward Snowden, but found no stowaways on board, Austria’s deputy chancellor has said.

8:42 GMT: Spain has authorized Bolivia’s presidential jet to pass through its airspace and continue its journey to Bolivia, the Austrian President has said. The plane was grounded in Austria Wednesday morning over suspicions that Edward Snowden was on board.

The Austrian President, Heinz Fischer, announced that the Bolivian presidential jet will be on its way to La Paz “shortly” following a meeting with President Evo Morales. President Morales has spent 11 hours in the airport in Vienna waiting to resume his journey.

03:00 GMT: French officials have stated that technical problems prevented one of their airports from accepting president Evo Morales’ flight from landing. The Bolivian leader was en route from Russia following his attendance at a summit of major gas-exporting nations in Moscow.

According to the Associated Press, Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca has rejected any claims that the plane carrying the Bolivian head of state was denied entry over France and Portugal for anything other than political reasons.

“They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane … We don’t know who invented this lie,” said Choquehuanca.

While attending the energy conference in Russia this week, Morales told RT that he would consider granting asylum to Snowden if the request was made.

“It is possible that they want to intimidate us due to the statement made by President Morales that we would analyze an asylum request from Mr. Snowden,” said Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra.

“We have the suspicion that [France and Portugal] were used by a foreign power, in this case the United States, as a way of intimidating the Bolivian state and President Evo Morales.”

Saavedra confirmed that Italy had also denied Bolivia’s aircraft entry into its airspace. The Bolivian president meanwhile is spending the night at a hotel in Vienna.

01:08 GMT: Austrian ministry officials have confirmed that Snowden was not on Morales’ plane, AFP reported.

President Morales will leave early Wednesday morning for La Paz,” Austrian ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg said. He denied any knowledge of why the plane landed there.

00:41 GMT: Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou has written a letter supporting Snowden’s decision to leak information about the massive surveillance apparatus employed by the US. Kiriakou was the first CIA officer to publicly acknowledge that torture treated as legal under former president George W. Bush. He was convicted in October 2012 of disclosing the name of an officer who worked in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program to a reporter and sentenced to thirty months behind bars earlier this year.

 

Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou (Photo from tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com)Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou (Photo from tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com)

 

Kiriakou, in his second note published by Firedog Lake, advised Snowden to “find the best national security attorneys money can buy,” while recommending the American Civil Liberties Union and Government Accountability Project as two potential leads.

You’re going to need the support of prominent Americans and groups who can explain to the public why what you did is so important,” Kiriakou wrote, while adding that the “most important advice” he can offer is to “not, under any circumstances, cooperate with the FBI.”

 

Image from dissenter.firedoglake.comImage from dissenter.firedoglake.com

 

00:07 GMT: The Bolivian Chamber of Deputies, the country’s national legislature, expressed solidarity with President Evo Morales after his plane from Moscow was diverted away from French and Portuguese airspace because of a rumor that Edward Snowden was onboard.

This is a lie, a falsehood. It was generated by the US government,” Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra told. “It t is an outrage. It is an abuse. It is a violation of the conventions and agreements of international air transportation.”

Ecuador also suggested an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) after the incident Tuesday.

 

The Bolivian presidential airplane is parked at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat July 3, 2013. (Reuters)The Bolivian presidential airplane is parked at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat July 3, 2013. (Reuters)

 

Wednesday, July 3

22:24 GMT: A Bolivian Minister has announced that Morales’ plane was forced to re-route on the suspicion that Snowden was on board, according to the Associated Press.

22:21 GMT: After departing from Russia the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to make an emergency landing in Austria. Bolivian authorities denied rumors that Edward Snowden was on board, though the fugitive whistleblower did send a political asylum request to Bolivia that has yet to be answered; he also petitioned Austria but was rejected.

Reports indicated the plane made previous attempts to land in France and Portugal but was denied because of the possibility that Snowden was on board.

17:53 GMT: Snowden’s father has written an open letter to him extolling him for “summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny.” Snowden’s father has expressed concern that WikiLeaks supporters who have been helping his son seek asylum may not have his best interests at heart. The father has said he’d like his son to return to the U.S. under the right circumstances.

14:43 GMT: In his asylum request to Poland, Snowden said that he risks facing the death penalty if he returns to the US.

14:10 GMT: Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, says Venezuela is ready to consider an asylum request from Snowden.

“In any case, this young man must be protected in terms of international and humanitarian law. He has a right to be protected, because he is being pursued be the US. By its president, vice president, by the secretary of State. Why is he being pursued?What kind of crime has he committed? Has he launched a missile and killed anyone? Has he planted a bomb and killed anyone? No, he hasn’t. On the contrary, he is doing everything to prevent wars, to prevent any kind of illegal action against the whole world. Venezuela hasn’t so far received an asylum request from Snowden – when we get it we are ready to consider it,” Maduro told journalists in Moscow on Tuesday.

 

President Nicolas Maduro seen attending the Kremlin's joint press conference, July 2, 2013 (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)President Nicolas Maduro seen attending the Kremlin’s joint press conference, July 2, 2013 (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

 

14:07 GMT: According to Wikileaks, Snowden has received asylum rejections from Poland, Finland, India, and Brazil. Applications made to Austria, Ecuador, Norway, and Spain are only valid if made on the countries’ home soils. Venezuela says it is willing to consider an asylum request from Snowden.

Bolivia, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, and Switzerland have not yet responded to Snowden’s requests for asylum.

Snowden gave up on his initial request to stay in Russia, after President Putin said his asylum bid was contingent on his cessation of “anti-American activity,” according to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

13:35 GMT: Italy’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Snowden’s asylum application was not filed correctly because Snowden would have to be on Italian soil for it to be valid. Furthermore, his application was received by fax, which is not allowed under Italian law.

12:40 GMT: Brazil has refused the asylum request from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a spokesperson for the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said in a statement.

12:25 GMT: Poland, America’s most faithful ally in Eastern Europe, has announced it is going to demand explanations from Washington over NSA surveillance of Polish diplomats in EU facilities and the country’s embassy in the US. “We will demand an explanation for NSA (US National Security Agency) actions towards Poland and the EU,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski wrote in a Twitter post.

10:36 GMT: India has rejected Snowden’s application for political asylum, stating they have “no reason” to accede to the request.

“Indian Embassy in Moscow did receive a request for asylum in a communication dated 30 June from Mr Edward Snowden,” Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said on Twitter.

10:00 GMT: Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo knows nothing of an asylum request from Edward Snowden, but has reiterated statements made by other states that an asylum application is only valid when made on Spanish soil.

For an asylum petition to become a petition that the government could study, in other words for it to be legally admissible, it has to be made by a person who is in Spain,” Reuters cites Garcia-Margallo as saying.

09:00 GMT: Finnish asylum cannot be requested from abroad, according to Keijo Norvanto, Head of the Unit for Communications at Finland’s Foreign Ministry.

We can confirm that we received the request. But we cannot consider it official. To officially seek political asylum, Snowden must first come to Finland and go to the police or migration service. But in this case the request procedure was violated, so the appeal is not going to be considered,” ITAR-TASS news agency cites Norvanto as saying.

08:30 GMT: Snowden’s request for asylum was handed over to the Austrian embassy in Moscow on Monday, but it can only be submitted in Austria directly, APA news agency cites the country’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, as saying. When asked by journalists if Snowden could be extradited once in Austria, the Minister answered that no international arrest warrant had been issued for the whistleblower.

08:00 GMT: Edward Snowden gave up on his initial request to stay in Russia, after President Putin said his asylum bid was contingent on his cessation of “anti-American activity”, said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.  The whistleblower continues to remain in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport and has never crossed the Russian border, Peskov continued. He reiterated that Russian intelligence had never worked with the whistleblower, nor had Snowden ever been a Russian intelligence agent. Peskov stressed Russia will never hand over anyone to a country where capital punishment is enforced.

 

Russia's President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting with the Venezuelan delegation, led by President Nicolas Maduro, at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 2, 2013. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting with the Venezuelan delegation, led by President Nicolas Maduro, at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 2, 2013. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

 

00:00 GMT:  In a statement released through WikiLeaks, Snowden thanked his supporters and decried the Obama administration’s method of trying to intimidate countries that would consider granting him political asylum.

For decades the United States of America [has] been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum,” Snowden wrote. “Sadly, this right laid out and voted for by the US in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon.

Although I am convicted of nothing,” the statement continues, “it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me in a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me [from] exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”

 

Tuesday, July 2

18:30 GMT: Speaking to RT Spanish, Bolivian president Evo Morales has said that Edward Snowden has not requested political asylum from his country.

“If there were a request, of course we would be willing to debate and consider the idea,” said Morales.

The president further explained that Bolivia was prepared to “assist” the whistleblower.

 

Bolivian president Evo Morales visiting RT Spanish TV channel (RT photo / Semyon Khorunzhy)Bolivian president Evo Morales visiting RT Spanish TV channel (RT photo / Semyon Khorunzhy)

 

“Why not? Well, he’s left much to be discussed … and a debate on the international level, and of course, Bolivia is there to shield the denounced, whether it’s espionage or control, in either case, we are here to assist.”

16:00 GMT: US President Barack Obama said Washington and Moscow had held high level discussions regarding the issue of fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, adding that he hoped Russia would help resolve the issue on the basis of international standards.

 

US President Barack Obama, July 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)US President Barack Obama, July 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

 

Obama, noting that the US does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, said that Snowden had arrived in the country without a valid passport, and hoped Moscow would thus make a decision which was on par with the regular protocols of international travel and cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

Obama would not confirm reports that law enforcement agencies in both countries had been ordered to find a solution regarding Snowden.

15:32 GMT: Edward Snowden has not applied for asylum in Russia, according to the Russian Immigration Service.

The statement comes after a New York Times report which cited “a Russian immigration source close to the matter” as saying that Snowden has, in fact, sought asylum.

 

15:30 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin said  that Russia would not hand over former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the United States, but added that if Snowden wanted to say in the country he “must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners”.

“Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so. Same as no one has ever been extradited to Russia,” Putin stated.

“At best,” he noted, Russia exchanged its foreign intelligence employees detained abroad for“those who were detained, arrested and sentenced by a court in the Russian Federation.”

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 1, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klementiev)Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 1, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klementiev)

 

Snowden “is not a Russian agent”, the president continued, stressing that Russian intelligence services were not working with the American whistleblower.

Putin added that Snowden should choose his final destination and go there.

13:56 GMT: Presidents Putin and Obama have instructed their nations’ securities services – Russia’s FSB and American FBI respectively – to solve the situation around the Snowden case, said the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev.

12:53 GMT: France and Germany have demanded the US account for leaked reports of massive-scale US spying on the EU. French President Francois Hollande called for an end to surveillance while Germany said such “Cold War-style behavior” was “unacceptable.”

The German government summoned the US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, to Berlin on Monday to explain the incendiary reports.  Chancellor Merkel’s spokesperson said the government wants “trust restored.”

While French President Francois Hollande said the spying should “stop immediately.”

 

Francois Hollande (AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)Francois Hollande (AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)

 

09:13 GMT: Juergen Trittin, German parliamentary leader and candidate for chancellor of the Greens – the country’s third largest party – told German television that whistleblower Edward Snowden should be granted safe haven in Europe and not seek asylum in “despotic” countries.

“It’s painful for democrats that someone who has served democracy and, in our view, uncovered a massive violation of basic rights, should have to seek refuge with despots who have problems with basic rights themselves,” Trittin said.

“Someone like that should be protected,” he continued. “That counts for Mr. Snowden. He should get safe haven here in Europe because he has done us a service by revealing a massive attack on European citizens and companies. Germany, as part of Europe, could do that.”

The deputy did not specify which “despots” he had in mind.

Tritten’s comments come amidst reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitors half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany during an average month, far outpacing US surveillance of any other European state.

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| Edward Snowden: Obama guilty of deceit over extradition!

Edward Snowden: Obama guilty of deceit over extradition ~

Edward Snowden

In the statement released by WikiLeaks, Snowden claimed the US president had employed the ‘old, bad tools of political aggression’. Photograph: Reuters/The Guardian

Edward Snowden has accused Barack Obama of deception for promising in public to avoid diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over his extradition, while privately pressuring countries to refuse his requests for asylum.

Snowden, the surveillance whistleblower who is thought to be trapped in the legal limbo of a transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, used his first public comments since fleeing Hong Kong to attack the US for revoking his passport. He also accused his country of bullying nations that might grant him asylum.

“On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic ‘wheeling and dealing’ over my case,” Snowden said in a statement released by WikiLeaks.

“Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the president ordered his vice-president to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions. This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression.”

Snowden’s increasingly desperate predicament became further apparent on Monday night with the leak of a letter he had written to Ecuador praising its “bravery” and expressing “deep respect and sincere thanks” for considering his request for political asylum.

But the change in mood in Quito, already apparent at the end of last week, was underlined by an interview Rafael Correa, the president, gave to the Guardian on Monday in which he insisted Ecuador will not now help Snowden leave Moscow and never intended to facilitate his attempted flight to South America.

Correa blamed earlier signs of encouragement on a misunderstanding by its London embassy.

“That we are responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It’s not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia,” Correa said at the presidential palace in Quito. Correa said his government did not intentionally help Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Moscow with a temporary travel pass. “It was a mistake on our part.”

In his statement through WikiLeaks, which has been assisting him since he left Hong Kong on 10 June, Snowden contrasted the current US approach to his extradition with its previous support of political dissidents in other countries.

“For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum,” he said. “Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the US in article 14 of the universal declaration of human rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country.”

Snowden also accused the Obama administration of “using citizenship as a weapon”, which has apparently left him unable to leave the airport in Moscow.

“Although I am convicted of nothing, [the US] has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person,” he said. “Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”

Moscow confirmed earlier on Monday that Snowden had applied for political asylum in Russia. The LA Times said Snowden had made similar applications to a total of 15 countries.

The former NSA contractor struck a defiant tone on Monday night. “In the end, the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake,” he said. “We are stateless, imprisoned or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you.

“It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised – and it should be. I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.”

His statement also came shortly after one of Obama’s top intelligence officials, US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, was forced to apologise to Congress</a> for “erroneous” claims that the US did not collect data on its own citizens.

Snowden paid tribute to those who had helped him force such disclosures.

“One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth,” he said.

“My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.”

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